2018 Tampa Supercross Preview

The 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series heads to the East Coast for the first time this year, and Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson will step into Raymond James Stadium with a 36-point lead over Cole Seely.

However, Seely isn’t the only one with an eye on the championship as Round 8 commences on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know when watching the race:

1. Jason Anderson will be looking to extend his lead yet again. As this has been a season of attrition, Anderson must avoid injury to take the title. At the same time, he must hold his lead against two seemingly distant competitors—KTM’s Marvin Musquin (41 points back) and Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac (70 points back). To do that, Anderson will want to return to the podium after finishing fourth in Arlington due to an early-race fall. With three wins and five podiums—both best-in-class—Anderson’s goal will be to stay safe, be on the podium, and take a win if it comes to him. Watch his start—as always, it’s crucial.

Husqvarna's Jason Anderson
Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson

2. Tied for wins with Anderson, last week’s winner Eli Tomac wants to mount another win streak. Tomac has had it go two ways for him this year. He either wins, as he has done three times, or he crashes. Tomac won easily in Arlington, and will certainly expect to repeat that performance in Tampa. Already this year, Tomac has had back-to-back wins—A2 and Glendale—and he can do it again. Ideally for Tomac, and it could certainly happen, he’s looking at his five-race win streak last year with the goal of repeating it. If Tomac can put that together and Anderson falters, Tomac’s championship hopes are not quite as over as it seems.

3. Marvin Musquin needs a breakthrough win. Musquin hasn’t won since A1, when Tomac suffered an unforced crash while leading. With a pair of seconds in the last two races, Musquin has demonstrated that he is back from the shoulder injury suffered in Round 2 in Houston. However, those two second-place finishes have only let him gain one point on leader Anderson. Musquin knows he needs more than that to significantly chip away at Anderson’s 41-point lead over him. Musquin has nine races to do that, and he’ll have to pick up nearly five points per round on Anderson to make that happen—that’s the gap between first- and third-place points.

2018 Tampa Supercross Preview KTM Marvin Musquin
KTM’s Marvin Musquin

4. Cole Seely is second in the points, but that may not survive Tampa. The good news for Seely is that he is four points ahead of KTM’s Blake Baggett and five points up on Musquin in the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross standings. The bad news for Honda’s Seely is that he hasn’t beaten either of those competitors in the last four rounds. If the finishing positions in Tampa are the same as they were in Arlington, Seely will drop to fourth in the standings. Seely must regain the form that he had when he lead for 23 laps in Oakland and San Diego, and he’ll have to hold that form for the entire race. A great start is critical for Seely’s hopes of staying in the top 3 in the standings.

5. Blake Baggett has quietly moved into third in the standings after struggling in the four initial rounds. Sitting 40 points behind Anderson, it’s hard to see Baggett as a championship contender—Baggett has zero wins this year. However, earning three third-place finishes in a row is an impressive way to come into Tampa. Baggett has snagged those three podiums via good starts, so keep an eye on him when the gate drops.

2018 Tampa Supercross Preview Kawasaki's Eli Tomac
Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac

6. Chad Reed should break the record for most premier class Supercross Main Event starts at Tampa. His year has been painful to watch, as Reed has finished no better than 13th in 2018. Reed has even had to visit the LCQ to qualify for the Main. Reed got a late start on the season, and he’s a true privateer. Still, he’s a shell of his former Championship-winning self, and he’s just barely hanging on to earn that longevity record.

7. Husqvarna FC 450 Rockstar Edition rider Dean Wilson is slowly coming around after a first-round injury. Since recovering from his A1 crash, Wilson has improved every race. Wilson has an 18-15-11-9-8 streak going. Wilson has speed, so at some point he may be a podium contender. In the meantime, watch to see if Wilson can nab a top 5 in Tampa.

8. You won’t be seeing Ken Roczen or Justin Barcia in Tampa. Roczen’s amazing comeback from his extraordinarily severe arm injury suffered in the 2017 A2 race is the stuff of legends. However, Honda CRF450R rider Roczen hadn’t won a 2018 race going into San Diego when he broke his hand making an ill-advised rough pass on Cooper Webb. Barcia’s error on the triple jump on Lap 1 of his Heat at Arlington meant the end of his dream season. Barcia will return, but rather than sitting in second place in the standings, as he was when he got unintentionally clipped by Tyler Bowers, Barcia won’t be in the top 10. It has been a cruel season for both riders.

2018 Tampa Supercross Preview Honda Ken Roczen
Honda’s Ken Roczen, who won’t race in Tampa

9. The 2018 Tampa Supercross will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1. Check out our Monster Energy Supercross television schedule for the timing details, and don’t forget to add an hour of recording, just in case.

2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Standings (after 7 of 17 rounds)

  1. Jason Anderson, 160 points (3 wins)
  2. Cole Seely, 124
  3. Blake Baggett, 120
  4. Marvin Musquin, 119
  5. Weston Peick, 114
  6. Justin Barcia, 113
  7. Justin Brayton, 112
  8. Ken Roczen, 102
  9. Broc Tickle, 96
  10. Eli Tomac, 90 (3 wins)
  11. Cooper Webb, 89
  12. Josh Grant, 83
  13. Vince Friese, 67
  14. Chad Reed, 55
  15. Dean Wilson, 54
  16. Malcolm Stewart, 53
  17. Tyler Bowers, 42
  18. Jeremy Martin, 36
  19. Kyle Cunningham, 34
  20. Ben Lamay, 33
  21. Benny Bloss, 26
  22. Alex Ray, 22
  23. Adam Enticknap, 12
  24. Justin Bogle, 12
  25. Kyle Chisholm, 10
  26. Dakota Tedder, 10
  27. AJ Catanzaro, 7
  28. Matthew Bisceglia, 6
  29. Cole Martinez, 5
  30. Jake Weimer, 5
  31. Henry Miller, 5
  32. Austin Politelli, 4